The Trouble with the U.S. Healthcare System

February 17, 2017
By Anonymous

In 2014, almost 32.9 million Americans were without health insurance. In addition, the United States government spends more per capita on healthcare than any other country besides Norway and the Netherlands in the OECD, an international forum consisting of 34 countries which has the goal of global development. So how can the United States spend so much and continue to have so many issues? Despite the Affordable Care Act, how can so many people still not afford health insurance? The fact is, although the act made many improvements, there are still many issues in the healthcare system. Rising health care costs can be attributed to the fact that more expensive and advanced drugs and technologies are easily available to the public, which often chooses these options when it’s not necessary. In addition, obesity and other chronic diseases could be a contributing factor as those people often need more medical attention and end up going to the hospital more often. Another reason is the bills the hospitals give the patients. After a patient is treated, the hospital will bill his or her insurance company with an incredibly high mark-up rate, which causes the patient’s deductible to increase. Between 2010 and 2015, deductibles increased by 67 percent. The lack of health insurance coverage has greatly impacted the U.S. economy, as unpaid emergency room bills go to the taxpayers.

Healthcare in the United States is flawed in many ways, however we are making steps to change this and reform the system. Former President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, which was enacted in January 2014. This act required that almost all Americans were required to have some kind of health insurance. Healthcare marketplaces were created, such as Medicaid and Medicare, where people without plans could shop for affordable ones. However, the country still has many steps to go in order to make health insurance something that is available to everyone, which is necessary as hospital bills are often more unaffordable for patients who need medical treatment. Those with insurance still face high premiums and deductibles. In addition, there is a coverage gap that people often fall into where they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, however they are below the lower limit of premium credits on the healthcare exchanges. Ways to fix this can be found by looking at countries that have had success with their healthcare systems. We could establish a national health service where medical services are given by government paid physicians and paid through taxes. In addition, the government could develop a national health insurance system, where there is a single government run insurance, or a multi-payer health insurance system which pays physicians and hospitals at uniform rates, eliminating the need for administration.  Although these changes would be large and would take a long time to develop, we have already made progress with the Affordable Care Act. Although the solutions seem far from reach, they are there and they are possible.

The author's comments:

This is a very short synopsis about just some of the problems in the healthcare system of the United States. This deeply resonates with me because my mom is a physical therapist who has worked in nursing homes and hospitals. She has seen first-hand many of the issues people face, and she has seen the attitude people have towards healthcare- even if they can pay for it, they don't think they should... and this is not the right attitude to have if we are going to have a successful healthcare system in the US. 

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